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Back to Part Three.

Part 4: Recombination

"Don't think that taking out Kiko means that you have half a chance against either me or Tama. Instead of thinking positive, how about you try..." Without warning, Hikari disappeared, and reappeared to the left of the group. "Thinking fast!" Immediately upon his reappearance, he fired a blast of green fire directly at Reens to punctuate his shout.

In that same moment, a blast of red fire nearly overtook Hikari's green flames. Splice's fist collided with Hikari's wrist just in time to divert the assault, and expelled a massive burst of flames that nearly resembled an explosion. While the burns wouldn't necessarily hurt him, the sheer force of the attack would definitely hurt Hikari's arm. His green fire trailed off towards Static and Melissa.

"That fast enough for you, Mirror Man?" He asked with a coy smirk. "I thought you'd aim for her once I realized you weren't talking to me." Splice returned to his battle stance, standing between him and Reens. "But don't think you can get the better of us with cheap shots like that! Not on my watch!"

"I have to say, you really are catching on to our powers quickly." Hikari chuckled. "I was wondering when it would be fair for me to stop holding back." It appeared that he was powering up for something, a faint aura surrounding him.

Melissa sensed the blast heading in her direction, and quickly raised a shadowy wall to block the attack. She and a small area around her became completely monochrome from the power she was outputting to hold the shield.

Meanwhile, Tama's immediate growth in power made Smash a bit uneasy. "Who and what is this person?" He asked, taking a defensive stance.

"A nu... a nuisance who's been... exponentially growing in power and that I can't... I can't touch..." Xavis answered. He was kneeling down on one knee and panting heavily, as his attack against Tama had taken quite a lot out of him. The energy within him was increasing rapidly, though, but also unusually fluctuating, and a dark, crystal-like substance was forming on the hedgehog's hands. "Where's... Melissa? Is she okay?"

"She's fine." He said. "Let us handle this. You look like you're about to have a meltdown or something." Smash stepped in front of the two, "You with me, Platinum?"

"Let's do this!" Platinum exclaimed. "No matter who my opponent is, I'll always be ready to stand and fight. Time to stop this girl, whoever she is!"

Right on cue, Tama rushed towards the group, appearing only a few yards away from Platinum in an instant. "I'm gonna get yooooouuuuuu~" She singsonged, powering up once more.

"Here she comes!" Smash exclaimed, getting into a defensive stance. Out of nowhere, a blue streak came crashing into Tama, leaving a young-looked blue-furred hedgehog with two droopy quills and a red-furred bat to tumble. For Tama, it would feel like getting into a car crash and getting hit by an incredibly large shuriken. "...There she goes." Smash stated flatly, looking dumbfounded.

"O-Ow..." Alexia said. "T-That hurt..."

Jewel was also banged up from the crash. "Ohhh... I agree... ow..."

"Thanks for the save, Splice," Reens said with a slight grin. She readied some more orbs of water and stayed behind him just in case. "I don't know what he's powering up for, but it doesn't look good."

"Stay behind me." Splice ordered cautiously. The ice on his arm began to melt away with billows of steam rising from it, while the fire on his other arm simply died out. "Get ready for anything. I'm gonna nip it in the bud!" With that, he broke into a short sprint towards Hikari with both daggers at the ready. He made a great leap halfway there, and with a couple aerial twirls, came down with a powerful vertical slash aimed at the agent's head.

Not even bothering to look above him, Hikari chuckled. "And with this... I return your attack threefold!" He vanished as the blade was about to make contact, reappearing a few paces back. However, he seemed to be tinted... Red? Immediately after, a second Hikari appeared to his left, tinted green. A third, blue, to his right. In perfect sync, the three shot jets of fire in their respective color directly at Splice.

Knocked a few more yards back, Tama somehow managed to get back on her feet. Despite both of the blows dealt to her, she only seemed to be slightly out of breath. "That tickled... Do you want to play with me too?" Her imposing mint-green aura hadn't even faded, still burning brightly. "Hehe... This is going to be fun~"

"For a creepy child, she's tough." Smash commented, his fists tightening. "She took two people slamming into her like friggin' rockets like they were as weak as Nerf guns. It'll take more than a few good punches to knock her down for the count."

"I know, right?" Max said, still in his super form with his hair and aura glowing. He dropped Clock-Watch and Transford onto the ground before smiling. "I watched the whole thing. This cupcake isn't going down." Max's grin grew even larger, and his aura even more fiery. "The Preteen Punisher here is about to change that."

Static didn't get up, but could hear Max self-made title from where he was. "Seriously?" he asked, looking at Max with a blank look.

Clock raised his hand. "Maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to try and rush in, then-"

Max quickly put his arm out and created a transparent yellow blade on it, similar to the move he'd used earlier on Splice. Oh yeah, that dude exists! Max then called out to the multi-colored hedgehog, completely oblivious to the fact he was busy. "Hey, Splice! Think we could try to rush Cupcake?"

Cupcake? Reens thought, slightly amused. She focused more, the orbs of water solidifying. They weren't orbs of ice, since she was unable to do that, but they were getting stronger. "He's a little busy at the moment!" she yelled to Max, shaking her head. "Just stay there for now, okay?"

Clock spoke up once more. "That really would be the best course of action-"

"What a bore! You really expect me to do that? I have better things to do!" Max said, groaning before smiling. "Why do I need him, anyway? I'll save the world from this pushover freak by myself! It's time to show you what the Irvaron can do!" Not waiting for Splice, Max blasted forward in a rush of speed, disappearing when he was a meter away from her. If Tama looked up around her area, she'd find yellow Super Chaos Spears and green Super Chaos Arrows (Chaos Spears but more powerful) surrounding her. Then, she'd see Max in the air, levitating with his legs crossed. "Impressive, am I right? Now, should I have them all explode or should they all close in on you? Decisions, decisions!"

Static continued to stare at Max. "Seriously??" he asked again, this time a little louder as though to emphasize his disbelief.

Platinum simply stared at the scene unfolding in front of her. After a moment, she turned to Smash. "Am I the only one who thinks that this is going to end incredibly badly for all of us, or am I just crazy?"

Smash however, was grimacing in annoyance. His eye twitched involuntarily as he listened to him run his mouth and try to steal the show before it even began. "Trust me, it's not just you." He responded without even glancing in Platinum's direction. Smash wasn't too thrilled to see Max again, but this kid's hyperactive overconfidence was grating on his nerves real fast. "I have so many questions right now that all begin with "why the hell". But on the other hand, this is an opportunity to learn our opponent. Let's leave Max in the spotlight for a while longer...and see if he doesn't get stage fright."

"As long as you're not expecting him to watch where he's aiming, I think he'll do OK." Transford said as he took a spot between Platinum and Smash. He twirled his guns around for a moment, ready to unload a storm of bullets at either Tama or Hikari at a moments notice.

Tama stared at Max. "I don't like the rules of this game." In a flash, she flew directly towards Max, willingly flying into the energy blasts to move towards him. Her arm clenched, she would throw a punch charged with her strange energy as soon as she got close enough to him. "Let's use my rules instead~"

Max started laughing as he tried to catch Tama's fist with his arm-sword, which would stab through her arms. "You act like a kid! Well, I guess if you are... I'm like the recess aid, telling you that you're not allowed to play tag because of stupid safety reasons." Max growled, "Elementary school..." before speaking again. "Anyway, how's life going with you? Proud that you're working for a boatload of idiots? Cool. My name's Max Irvaron, B T dubs. I bet you'll remember it after you're locked up."

The sword cut straight through her arm, but the strange misty energy leaking from her quickly appeared to patch her arm back up. Tama didn't even appear to be in pain. She was giggling. "You have a stupid-sounding name." With her other arm, she fired a blast of her mint-green energy directly at Max's chest. "You'll go to time-out if you keep being so violent~"

Max was hit, being blasted downwards to a tree. When he hit it, there was an explosion, but when all of the smoke was gone, a bright, yellow light flashed. With a hole through his shirt but his skin unscathed, Max rose into the air and laughed. "Lame! Using 'play-time' quotes to scare me? Like, kid, do you even know who you're up against?" Max kept laughing before looking at Tama and smiling. "You look you have a decent healing factor. I guess that's the government's problem to deal with."

Max created a red lance out of Chaos Energy before twirling it around and pointing at everyone with it. "I hope you guys have some decent acrobatics, 'cuz this is about to get crazy! Disco Dome!" Max threw three yellow orbs into the air, and they fired three types of lasers - red fast but weak ones, silver normal ones, and blue slow but powerful ones - in all directions. Then, Max flew around to dodge the lasers before trying to stab Tama into the leg. If he succeeded, he'd flip over while in the air and try to hit her back down with it.

The mist blocked the lance before it could make contact. Something about the collision between the two energies seemed unnatural, and it seemed like they were negating each other on contact. Tama grinned madly, attempting to punch Max in the gut with a fist charged with energy. "Your Chaos doesn't scare me. I have something just as strong~" If the attack connected, she would follow up with an axe kick to send him crashing back into the ground.

As soon as Max's hit missed, he flew backwards, causing Tama's punch to miss, also. Then, Max flew around, trying to dodge more lasers shooting around everywhere. Three lasers - one red, one blue, and one silver - were shot at Tama, and to add insult to injury, Max threw three red discs of Chaos Energy at Tama. "Eat this, kid!" Max's eyes widened before shrinking back and he spoke again. "What is a weird kid like you doing here, anyway? Did you get bullied so much you went evil?"

With jet streams of fire pushing him from three different sides, Splice held up his arms to guard his face after hitting the ground. The pressure was uncomfortable, but strangely he felt alright. 'There's...there's nothing special about this fire after all? Geez, was I worried over nothing?' He thought to himself as he began to stand in the flames. "Now, Reens! Give us a big ol' splash!" He shouted.

"You got it, Splice!" Reens yelled in return, combining her water orbs and adding more water, but struggling slightly. "Tidal Wave!" The wave crashed down over the flames, dousing as much of them as she could. She panted and wiped her forehead free of sweat. "Whew, that was close!"

The water doused the flames, and the three Hikaris moved farther apart from each other, waiting for their opponent's next move. The water that remained very quickly froze over, and spread across the ground towards their feet. Splice had slammed his palms against the ground just after the wave splashed over, more than ready to turn it to ice.

Alexia, meanwhile, left Jewel to approach the battle between Splice, Reens and Hikari. Desperate to help, she froze Hikari in place with another layer of ice keeping his legs to the ground, so that when they made an attack, the chances of it landing were higher.

It seemed to work, but the Blue Hikari managed to avoid the attack by jumping in the air. Quickly, he shot flames down at his partners, to melt the ice holding them down.

"Notta chance!" Splice stood up and blasted his own stream of flames back up towards the Blue Hikari's, causing a clash in mid-air. "I'll hold this one off! The rest are all yours!"

Splice's counter caused Blue Hikari to scowl. When he landed back on the ground, he dashed towards Splice, orbs of blue light growing in each of his hands.

Jewel stumbled off the snowflake, very disoriented. As she stumbled around, she asked, "Anyone... g-g-got the number... o-of that elephant we hit?" Then she flopped onto the ground unconscious.

"S-Sorry, ma'am.... I was a fool to crash like th-that...." Alexia said, berating herself even though she knew Jewel couldn't hear her.

Jewel let out a groan. "... feels like I got hit by a... flying... ice cream truck..." She sank back into unconsciousness.

Meanwhile, Xavis had snuck away from the battles to Melissa, who laid on the ground, exhausted from the shield she had created earlier. "Melissa?" The hedgehog asked.

"Xa... Xavis?" she asked between breaths.

"Melissa, are you okay?" He helped prop her up to a sitting position.

"I... I can't... I can't see..." she answered. Reality seem5d t₤_cr°ck ar÷und the hedgehog for a second. "H... he blinded me..."

He gently lowered her to the ground and stood up. The air was getting warm.

"Xavis? I know what you're feeling... please don't."

He closed his eyes. The dark crystals forming on his hands raised up to his elbows. He was visibly shaking. The air started getting hot.

"Xavis?"

He opened his eyes, now a vibrant, blood red, and turned to Hikari. He let out a war scream and rushed towards the cat with his arms ablaze, and was going to punch him hard with a flaming, crystallized fist, unaware of the others' plan.

Caught completely off guard, the Red Hikari only had enough time to throw his hands up in defense. Even then, the punch sent him careening backwards, tearing through the ice that bound him. After flying a few yards, he managed to grab the ground to stop himself, and quickly got up. It was clear that the blow hurt greatly, though.

Static got back up off the ground, finally feeling some strength back from resting. "Well, he's angry now," Static said to Melissa, watching Xavis charge towards Hikari. "I'm sorry, your highness, if I may call you that. If I had been faster and more aware of what was going on, this wouldn't have happened to you."

"No, no, it's fine," Melissa replied, "You did your best... that's what matters."

Reens looked over at Alexia and Jewel, trying to ease her nerves despite her fatigue. "Hey, are you guys alright? I'm kinda busy right now but I'll heal you if you need it! You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours. Just keep doing what you're doing and I'll handle the rest, okay?"

When Alexia heard that, she smiled for a second, sighed, and plopped onto her stomach. Seeing Xavis attacking Hikari (and wincing at the expression on his face), Alexia have a look of slight confidence to Reens. "Miss Cy-Cyborg, I believe those t-t-two are more than enough in order to handle the GUN agent. I-I-I just hope I'm n-not being a bother...."

The Green Hikari had melted his own ice at this point, and began shooting green beams of energy at Alexia, Reens, and Jewel. "Don't think that numbers and tricks will let you beat us this easily!"

"Aw, g-g-gumdrops!" Alexia yelled, quickly created a snowflake to reflect to lasers back at the Green Hikari. Then, Alexia created a hollow ice dome around the trio, trying to make sure they were protected. "Th-That was close...."

One of the lasers grazed his arm, but Hikari managed to dodge the rest, and started running towards the three.

Meanwhile, Tama was moving through Max's barrage, swatting the lasers out of the way and swiftly dodging the discs. "Less questions, more fighting~" She fired a barrage of misty orbs at Max. If he was hit by one, he would feel it conflict with his own Chaos energy.

"Touchy subject, eh?" Max said with a cocky smile as he fired Super Chaos Arrows at the orbs. The orbs won the clash with Max's projectiles, but as it took some time, Max was able to fly away while dodging more lasers. Conjuring two more red lances, Max threw them at Tama before firing a storm of Chaos Spears at her, though it was mainly for a distraction. Finally, Max created a slightly-transparent red blade on his hand and waited.

"Not really! I've always been like this~" As she continued to swat attacks away with her misty energy, Tama frowned. "This isn't much fun. You should stop running away." In a flash, she was right in front of Max. "Are you afraid? Hehe~" Lightning-quick, she went for an axe kick to send him back to the ground.

Max caught the axe kick before smiling and putting his palm in front of him. "Nah. You should flew into a-" Not stupid enough to tell this is what he'd been waiting for, Max fired a large beam of yellow Chaos Energy at Tama point-blank, a Super Chaos Wave. If it hit, it would send her into the skies before exploding with a large impact.

In response, Tama's own hand shot up to block the beam with her own beam of energy, pushing back against Max's. Her movements were almost unnaturally quick; something was boosting her power, and it seemed to be getting more potent with each moment. "Bye-bye~" Her beam surged with power, in an attempt to overwhelm Max and send him crashing down.

Max smiled. "Well, at least a little kid like you can provide a quarter of a challenge." Then, Max teleported away, having turned what was supposed to be a beam into a flare. As soon as he teleported away, it exploded while Max was on the ground, smirking. "Try that on for size, little girl!"

Clock walked up to Platinum, Smash, and Transford. "We should do something. Everyone seems all right, but we should try and finish this battle as quick as possible." In a flash, he manifested his arm cannon. "I'm going to try and get a shot at the flying one; she seems the most dangero—"

Suddenly, as he was lining up his shot, the side of his cannon exploded. The impact sent Clock tumbling to the ground, though he caught himself with his other hand, quickly righting himself. "What the—"

"Clock!" Smash exclaimed, just barely stopping himself from running to his aid before turning the opposite direction.

The perpetrator was clear: A wolf standing a few yards away, pointing a finger gun towards the group. He smirked, before rushing towards them, shooting rays of orange energy at them. "So, you're the punks causing us trouble? You must be something special!"

"And you must have been feeling left out on an ass kicking today." Transford said through a half-amused, half-annoyed smile as he rapidly dodged the newcomers attacks while firing off shots at him.

"Crap, reinforcements!" Smash quickly dove to the side in order to avoid the projectiles, "Take em down quickly; who knows how many agents they've got left!" Smash stood and began to sprint across the field, hoping to flank the newcomer while Transford kept him busy.

Platinum got hit once, but got into the swing of dodging the attacks. "Another one!? These guys are coming out of the woodwork!"

Quickly rolling to avoid the rays, Clock managed to leap back onto his feet. With his left hand, he reached into the back of his coat, pulling out a large silver sword. In a flash, he began to move the blade surprisingly quickly, blocking the shots fired at him.

The wolf began to counter Transford's shots with shots of his own. Noticing Smash running to the side, he began to run straight towards him, risking getting hit a few times so that he could get too close to Smash for Transford to shoot, without the risk of shooting Smash as well.

Smash could only trust that Transford wouldn't actually shoot him, and continued his pursuit towards the wolf. He was still weary of him, though. The best, and probably the only way he could take down a ranged fighter would be to get up close and personal, yet this new foe came straight for him. As soon as he got close enough, Smash ducked his head low and aimed a powerful left jab towards the wolf's gut as he attempted to rush past him.

Transford managed to fire off a few more shots before deciding that that the odds of hitting Smash were too high to keep going. Deciding to join Smash in an up close attack, he flicked at a button on the leather cast around his left arm, causing a blade to spring out of the front. He bolted toward the wolf, positioning his arm to try and cut into his leg as he passed him.

Tama seemed to be somewhat battered, but it was clear that she wasn't giving up yet. "You've lasted pretty long... But how long can you keep this up?" Again, she rushed straight towards Max, letting loose a barrage of misty energy beams.

Max flew to the side before using Chaos Shield to block against any beams that might have hit him if he hadn't. Then, Max fired the shield at Tama, trying to push her away. At that moment, he was hit by one of his own disco beams, blasting him back into the tree from before and taking its top off, leaving only a trunk. Annoyed, Max grabbed the severed tree and threw it at Tama, hoping to deal some serious damage.

The wolf braced himself for the blow; it almost seemed like he let himself get hit. He quickly turned his gaze towards Smash, and if he looked into the wolf's eyes, he would feel like an invisible force was attacking him, trying to chip away at his will. "Submit." He growled. Before he could go any further, however, he noticed Transford, and was forced to look away in order to move his leg out of the way.

Smash barely caught a glimpse of his eyes as he turned around, wondering why he showed so little resistance against his attack. All of a sudden, Smash froze in place with a quiet gasp, feeling an unnatural pulse throughout his body. His eyes widened and his brows furrowed; something was seriously wrong. 'What is this...overwhelming vibe he's giving off?' He asked himself as the wolf looked away. It was only for a second but it was more than enough to catch Smash off guard. 'That wasn't just any old look. I've stared monsters right in the eye and I've never felt weak in the knees. Not like that.' With Transford coming to keep up the offensive, Smash clapped his face with both hands, trying to regain focus, and took this opportunity to rush the wolf's backside.

Platinum stood back to watch, waiting for the right moment to rush in and join the fray.

As it flew towards her, she formed a blade of misty energy to slice it in half. Luckily, the halves didn't come crashing down on top of anyone, but the impact of them hitting the ground would likely be startling. "How about that? I stole that one from you~" She continued her pursuit, attempting to land a blow straight to Max's gut.

"Uch, of course a brat like you is unoriginal," Max said, with a groan. As she was nearing him, he smiled cockily, however, and if she got close enough to hit him she'd find that her attack would phase right through him. If she looked around the park, there were clones of Max everywhere - two afterimages were bickering, one afterimage was licking ice cream, one afterimage was taking a nap, and three move afterimages were playing Hot Potato with an Chaos Spear. Some were taking strolls, some were doing barrel rolls in midair, and some were looking at Tama and seemed to be gossiping among themselves about her.

"The more, the merrier! If I can't tell which one is real, I'll just break them all~" Raising her arms, Tama let loose countless beams of energy into the sky. After a moment, they descended, shooting towards the various Maxes scattered across the park, and the rest of the combatants too. The afterimages all dissipated, showing that Max had stopped trying to fool her, but if Tama didn't react, she'd find a lance through her chest that would explode after five seconds.

"Geez, this is like walking through a minefield!" Clock exclaimed, barely avoiding the explosions caused by the missiles hitting the ground. "Forget about us surviving, soon this park is going to be a crater!"

Xavis lunged at the red Hikari with another flaming punch, and planned on following by grabbing the cat by the arm and chucking him at the newcomer.

As soon as Xavis got close, Hikari disappeared, only to reappear to his left. 'Damn, he's got a lot of power...' Hikari thought. 'All I can do is keep trying to avoid his attacks until he runs out of steam. That should be all right, but with this kind of power, even my illusions might not be enough...' From his hand, he let loose a bolt of the same misty energy that Tama had used earlier, hoping to catch Xavis off guard.

As the blue Hikari rapidly approached him, Splice's hands glowed an icy blue as he took one step forward, readying himself for whatever Hikari was about to do. If he came within melee range, Splice would trap him within a large, jagged block of ice.

Once the blue Hikari got within a few feet, he quickly lunged forward and to the right, firing a blue ray of light energy at Splice. Immediately after the attack was released, however, he disappeared, reappearing to the left and firing another ray.

His arms were spread out as he was going to follow up with his trap move by slamming his hands into the ice with fiery palms, but now Splice was practically a sitting duck after his initial attack missed. Fortunately he reacted fast enough to dodge the first beam by lurching his upper body backward, but he was in no position to dodge the second one. He cried out in pain, losing his balance and staggering off to the side. He managed to turn around to face the blue Hikari before falling to one knee.

Noticing Splice's cry, Clock-Watch rushed towards him, firing at Hikari to distract him from the downed Splice. He quickly moved in between the two. "Are you alright!?" He asked. "That looked like it hurt. I can hold this guy off while you pick yourself up, if you need me to."

While he was occupied talking to Splice, however, the blue Hikari took the opportunity to let loose more bolts of energy towards the two.

"I-I'm fine!" Splice insisted, clutching his searing side. "Get down!" With his other arm he pulled Clock forward as he dove to the ground, narrowly missing the bolts coming at them. From the ground, he reached out towards the blue Hikari, causing a stream of ice to rapidly approach their enemy--threatening to freeze him to the ground. The ice's range spread outwards in the shape of a cone to cover more ground. "Get 'im when he jumps!" He quietly told Clock.

"Woah!" Clock shouted, seeing one of the bolts fly right over his face. "Alright, I'll make sure he can't dodge this one!" Lining up his shot, he waited for Hikari's move.

"Geez, it looks like more of a mess than it did," Reens commented, beginning to heal Alexia and Jewel at the same time, one hand on each of them. "Thank Chaos we have more help, but it looks like the other side has more help too." As she focused on healing them both, her eyes traveled to the battlefield, to the ice dome, then back to her patients. If this ends badly... no, you can't focus on that right now. It'll be alright ... right?

The green Hikari had gotten fairly close at this point, determined to take out the trio. Leaping into the air, he fired a jet of green fire at the dome, in an attempt to melt it. The dome began to melt, but Alexia planted her foot into the ground, trying to keep it from melting. "Ms. Cy-Cyborg.... please hurry w-with the h-healing... I can't hold th-this for much l-l-longer..."

Reens' teeth grit together as she focused harder on healing them. "I'm going as, as fast as I can! I'm sorry if I can't, can't heal you all the way, okay? I'm the only healer here, it's kind of hard to do!" Tears started running down her cheek as she said this, showing that she wasn't angry, just really... scared. Her chest started glowing from the strain.

"Omigosh, I'm.... so.... sorry..." Alexia felt horrible now. She was struggling to keep the dome up, and now she was making someone cry. The situation was mortifying. Alexia gulped before speaking again. "I... If it's too challenging to do quickly, I suggest we leave the dome and leave Ms. Jewel in here. Then, we can protect her while pushing off our assailant." Alexia sighed. "I-If you d-don't mind, of course..."

"Makes sense to me," Reens replied, wiping her eyes. "Um, you might wanna stand back a bit though, okay?" Alexia did as she was asked and steeped back, waiting in anticipation to see what Reens had up her sleeve. Reens took a deep breath and focused, becoming enveloped in a ball of light. When the light dissipated. Reens would be canary yellow with crimson eyes, and her heart necklace had become silver. Her clothes didn't change at all, but her robotic arm was different. "Okay. let's do this!" She picked up Alexia (who had just been staring at her in amazement) and flew out of the dome, having the dome close back around Jewel.

The green Hikari raised his eyebrows at Reens' transformation. He ceased firing his jet of flame, and assumed a defensive stance, waiting for her to make the first move.

Xavis raised his arms against the red Hikari's attack, with the energy simply reflecting off the crystals covering his arms. He then went in for another punch. If his opponent dodged again, he'd spin around and spew fire in all directions. Hikari might sense that his energy was slightly different from normal Chaos--there was something else, some unstable, unidentifiable energy growing within him...

"That bolt of Symphony didn't even phase him... This is a problem." The red Hikari muttered. Sweating, he threw his arms into the air. Suddenly, what appeared to be even more copies of the red Hikari popped into existence around Xavis. Some would vanish, sending beams of red energy towards him; the others began to run in various directions, hopefully making it hard to discern the real one.

Heartbeat Reens set Alexia down gently. "Like what you see? Hope so, cause you might not see this for a while!" she teased the green Hikari with a wink. She readied a large orb of water, similar in size to her Tidal Wave attack, but as she concentrated, the orb of water grew larger. She floated in the air, then spun and threw the orb straight onto him. "Hurricane!"

As it approached, the green Hikari vanished, but the impact of the orb hitting the ground was enough to knock him over, reappearing a yard or so to the left. Grimacing, he shot a ray of green energy towards Reens.

Alexia nodded. "Thank you s-so much! I'll try my best not to let you down!" Determined to do something useful, Alexia burst in speed to Splice and ran in front of him, staring at the Blue Hikari. "I-I'm not going to let you harm this man any further! I don't like violence, b-but if you're going to b-be so rude, it looks like th-th-this is my only option!" Alexia created four small shuriken that looked like snowflakes and fired them at the Blue Hikari. They would freeze the body part they hit in a block of heavy blue ice if they succeeded in striking their target.

He had just leaped into the air to dodge Splice's attack, and as the shuriken approached, the blue Hikari let out a burst of blue flame to melt the attacks. However, he was too caught up to notice Clock firing at him, and was hit square in the chest by a shot of silver energy, sending him tumbling to the ground.

Clock-Watch pumped his fist in celebration. "Yes! A clean hit!" He turned to Splice. "Quick, freeze him while he's down, and let's finish this one!"

"On it!" Splice stood up, holding his hands forward as the ice formed under the blue Hikari in the shape of a cage ready to catch him. If he landed inside, Splice would proceed to completely trap him with another layer of frost, sealing off any openings from the cage. With that, he would prepare to follow up with one last finishing blow.

Tama was sent flying backwards by the exploding lance, but still didn't cease her murderous grin. Her fur glowed a sickly green, and she rushed towards Max with simply uncanny agility. As she got closer, she fired energy beams to surround Max, preventing him from running away without having to walk through one of the potent attacks. They soon formed a cage that would keep both of them stuck until she dissipated it. "No more tricks. How tough are you without room to run?"

"Who says I need to run? I'm just trying to have fun. With you being some dumb kid, I thought you'd be able to enjoy yourself more than me." Max opened his mouth like he was going to speak again, but then an enormous red explosion went off instantaneously, even more powerful than a Chaos Blast.... with its power multiplied by three. This was Max's Super Chaos Climax, a destructive move that was used best when point-blank. Because of the cage, it wouldn't escape, leaving Tama without room to run unless she put the cage down.

Almost reflexively, Tama let loose her own explosion of energy when she felt the blast reach her. The two attacks broke the cage of energy with ease, and lit up the sky with green and red light. Neither one of the two would be able to avoid taking the brunt of each other's attack at such close range. After a moment, the smoke and light cleared, and Tama spiraled down to the ground, seemingly exhausted.

Heartbeat Reens simply deflected the blast with her robotic arm, then turned her robotic arm into a stronger version of her plasma cannon. "Is that all you could do? I guess being further away makes you weaker or something?" She fired a succession of plasma blasts straight at the green Hikari. "That didn't even tickle!"

The green Hikari's eyes narrowed, and he ran out of the way of the attacks, firing back towards Reens. Noticing Tama falling out of the sky, he ran towards where she would land. Max was also sent flying downwards while spinning, however, and he still had some Chaos Energy in him. He would end up hitting the Green Hikari with a large amount of force, and if he didn't notice, the two would find themselves in a ten-meter deep hole in the ground.

Seeing Max's attack heading towards him, Hikari quickly pulled something out of his pocket... A crystal? Wrapping it in mint-green energy, he whipped it towards Tama at lightning speed just before getting hit by Max's attack. "Tama! Catch!"

Tama's eyes shot open upon hearing Hikari shout to her, her gaze immediately turning to the crystal. It almost flew past her, but she barely managed to grab it with her right hand. Somehow, some way, she landed on her feet. "Ooooooooh~ I feel really excited now!" She immediately turned to look towards Platinum, who was still watching the wolf that had just appeared. "Now, where was I?"

As if he could sense what Smash was doing, the wolf attempted to hit Smash in the chest with his elbow, not even turning around to aim, though it still managed to be a precise strike. Perhaps he had ways of sensing opponents beyond just his eyes?

Smash was almost caught off guard, but managed to block the elbow with both hands. He quickly rose his boot in an attempt to kick his arm away from him.

With the wolf distracted enough to allow it, Transford stopped to press at a button on the gauntlet around his right arm. Various bits of it retracted or folded back into itself as the whole thing clattered to the ground. Without a single word from Transford, four pitch black tendrils composed of pure energy emerged from his back and sped toward the wolf, each one aiming to wrap itself around a different one of his limbs.

In response to both attacks, the wolf back-flipped over Smash, a trail of steam appearing to follow him. It seemed as if he intended to use Smash as a shield against Transford's attack. If Smash looked into his eyes, he would again be subjected to the intense feeling from before.

Smash barely had time to look up at the wolf, thanks to Transford's freaky tendrils stretching towards him. He saw them coming before the wolf launched himself with a smokescreen, and immediately after Smash knew what might come next. He let out a startled grunt as he quickly stepped aside, before shooting a disturbed glance towards Transford; his face saying all that needed to be said and asked. Returning to the matter at hand, Smash looked up to see where the wolf was going to land.


Static looked on as the battle raged. The park was getting demolished left and right. "Good grief, the park is ruined! Good thing we didn't fight in the city." He thought aloud. 

Feeling somewhat rested from his time out of combat, he felt that he to get back in and help, though he wasn't entirely sure how much use he'd be. He could barely go five minutes without tiring himself out. Maybe if he fought more conservatively, he could avoid exhausting himself. "I think it'd be a good idea to get you somewhere safe and out of the way." He said to Melissa.

"Oh? Y-yes, thank you," she replied, getting herself to her feet. "I think my vision's starting to come back..."

Static led her to a nearby tree and helped her settle down. "Just stay here and stay down." he said. Seeing Kiko's unconscious body, he decided to get him out of the way as well. He ran over and, putting his arms underneath and around Kiko's chest, began dragging him over to the tree. He then carefully positioned Kiko against the tree.

"Hey, your highness?" he asked. "I don't suppose your abilities could tie him down or something. If he wakes up, I'd rather he didn't escape."

"Oh, um, okay," Melissa replied, gesturing over to Kiko. A shadowy blanket wrapped around the fox's torso to constrain him.

"Alright. Shout if you need anything." Static said. He then turned to face the battle. He just needed an opportunity to jump in the fray. He watched the battle unfold, waiting for a good opportunity to assist.

Meanwhile, the multiple red Hikaris were only aggravating Xavis further.

The entire area started to go up in flames as the enraged hedgehog began spewing jets of fire from his arms in every direction, trying to hit the overly evasive cat.

Knowing that he could only keep holding out for so long, more and more of the Hikari clones turned into beams of light energy that fired towards Xavis. Only a handful of them remained after the barrage of light beams had finished; he hoped that the attack would weaken him somewhat, at the very least.

Heartbeat Reens flew around the area, dousing some of the flames that were getting too close to Splice, Smash, Platinum, and the other combatants. "Man, it sure is getting awfully warm here! Are you guys okay? What do you need me to do?"

CURSE IT ALL! THIS IS STUPID! Max thought, attempting to grab the Green Hikari by his collar and throw him into the air. "I don't have time to waste with people like you! That girl's head is mine!" If he succeeded, he would go blasting off towards Tama, the flames spreading into the sky as he flew. He would create two flares of Chaos Energy that'd explode when they got near.

Unable to avoid it, the green Hikari was flung into the air, though he managed to land on his feet a few moments later. It was clear that he was exhausted at this point, however.

Tama turned to look at Max, a slight frown on her face. "I'm done with you, your game wasn't very fun. You can go now~" From her hand, she let loose a large beam of mint-green energy towards Max. It was unnatural, how quick she fired the attack. Clearly, her power had increased beyond what it was only moments before. "You should stop before you break yourself~"

Max was hit by the blast, unable to respond to its amazing speed, and he was sent high into the sky. When he stopped flailing, a yellow aura surrounded him as he clenched his fists and yelled "YOU BRAT! I WON'T LET YOU BREATHE FOR MUCH LONGER, YOU HEAR ME?!" Max boosted downwards towards Tama like a comet, and it seemed like he would try to punch her in her face.

"You're no fun anymore~" Tama giggled, boosting straight towards Max. Once he got relatively close, she would release an explosion of energy around her. "Boom!" Max was immediately hit by the explosion... or so it seemed. This was what Max was hoping for. As soon as Tama released the explosion, Max teleported away, and then, reappearing in the air, he smiled before charging Chaos Energy in his mouth and firing it in the shape of a beam at Tama.

The beam pushed Tama to the ground, but she managed to stand her ground, and began to repel the attack with a beam of her own Symphony Energy. "Go on! Give it everything you've got! I don't want to be dissapointed~"

Max laughed for a long period of time before his pupils shrank and he sidestepped the beam, dodging Tama's attack. I... I think I know what she's trying to do. If I go all-out, I'll exhaust myself while she'll still have a ton of stamina. Max slapped himself on the head. Collect yourself, Max. I need to stop acting headstrong and start acting head-smart. This is a battle I can't afford to lose. After calming down, Max's smile turned into a neutral expression as he flew towards Tama casually, seemingly not caring anymore.

"Are you done now?" Tama asked, tilting her head to the side. Suddenly, she flew straight towards Max, lightning fast, slinging balls of energy at him. "Bye-bye, then! It's a shame you've given up so quick!"

Platinum was watching the fight between Tama and Max closely. Something felt off, but she wasn't sure what it was. Whatever it was, it seemed like something was about to go wrong, in her mind, so she was on edge. But what could be causing her to be so unsettled?

Max was apparently hit by the balls, but still, he flew to Tama, floating carelessly.

Splice's cage managed to trap the blue Hikari, though the rapidly increasing temperature meant that it likely wouldn't hold for long. The second he realized what had happened, he was already expelling flames to try and melt the icy prison.

Clock turned to Splice. "Before he breaks out, let's finish this! If you can keep him busy, I can charge up another shot from my cannon, and hopefully put him out of commission for a while. We're almost there!"

"I'll h-help keep the ice on! Tell me when to stop putting on the pressure!" Alexia said, putting her hand out to harden the ice. It put up a better defense, though the flames were still effective.

Though he didn't know who she was, Splice more than welcomed the extra help. A toothy smirk spread across his face as his daggers caught fire. "Ready when you are, Clock," he said as he crouched low with his arms crossed in front of him, ready to spring forward at any moment.

Energy gathering in his cannon, Clock nodded at Splice. "All right. Let's do this, now!"

In an instant, a burst of flames erupted from Splice's heels, giving him a huge burst of speed as he launched himself towards the blue Hikari. In the next second he was already behind him, his arms outstretched behind him as all the flames quickly burnt out from his knives. Suddenly, the top half of the icy prison began to slide down, revealing the clean cut right through the center. "Fatal Frost." Splice uttered with a hint of satisfaction, just before the entire cage burst into several shards and shrapnels of ice. It was at that very moment when Clock's blast closed in on their target, ready to finish the job.

As the debris cleared, the blue Hikari could be seen lying on the ground, defeated. His suit seemed to spark a little bit, but besides that, it was clear that he was out for the count.

"Yes!" Clock shouted. "We're finally managing to turn the tide, how about that?"

Splice stood up straight, twirling his daggers around triumphantly. He looked over his shoulder with a grin. "You rock, Clock. Didn't think you were much of a fighter at first, but I'm glad I was wrong!" He then began to survey the area, seeing how everyone else was holding up with their respective battles.

Instantly upon landing, the wolf rushed towards Smash, his eyes glowing with the same intensity they had before. If Smash was caught off-guard, he would aim a punch directly at his gut. If not, he would go for a sweep kick. Either way, he tried to stay close to Smash in an attempt to keep Transford from being able to get a clear shot at him.

Smash had expected the wolf to come for him, but it was only at this moment when he noticed the actual change in his eyes. In an instant, he felt that same unnatural pulse throughout his body--yet, even worse somehow. With the wolf charging right for him, eyes locked with his, Smash felt no more powerful than a deer in the headlights. 'Why...? Why won't...my body move...!?' He gritted his teeth, visibly struggling under his foe's influence. Yet, the more he looked into his eyes, the more he began to realize...

"OOF!" Unfortunately, he wasn't able to do anything about it in time, and took the blow head on. He staggered backwards, clutching his stomach and coughing. Yet now that his gaze was forced away from the wolf's eyes, the overwhelming feeling rapidly left his body.

With Smash recovering from the blow, Transford rushed back in to keep up the attack. He prepared to try and fake out the wolf with a gut punch before using his blade to stab him in the side.

Continuing to fly around the area, Heartbeat Reens kept dousing the flames that got too close to her friends. She also fired orbs of water at the Hikari clones, but these orbs were stronger than her previous ones and were more solidified. She also hovered above the wolf and readied another orb of water.

The wolf barely managed to avoid the attack from Transford, and quickly lept away from the two, shooting a spray of scarlet orbs of energy at both Smash and Transford. Noticing Reens above them, he quickly used his other hand to fire at her as well.

Smash looked up as the wolf jumped. Their eyes met briefly before the latter's attention was drawn towards Reens, and just like before he felt that same paralyzing sensation come and go. This time, however, a slight smirk crossed his face. "I see..." He muttered, just as he began to step out of range of the energy orbs. "So that's his strategy."

Transford was able to easily dodge most of the orbs or the tendrils on his back moved to block the others, but only one managed to land a hit. It only grazed his right shoulder, but the pain was enough to send him staggering. "He can't keep this up forever, but we clearly ain't getting anywhere with whatever the hell this is." Transford said to nobody in particular, but audible enough that Smash could probably hear him as two of his tendrils dissipated into plumes of black smoke and he clenched his fists, sending sparks flying.

"We haven't landed a single blow on him, so far." Smash noted somewhat quietly, walking up beside him. "But I think I know how we can. His strategy seems to be about avoiding your shots by getting in close range of me. His eyes have a paralyzing effect if you look into them, and that's how he's trying to catch me off guard. I'm going to try and use that against him. When he comes after me, be ready to shoot."

"Well?" The wolf's voice was quite loud, as if it was being amplified in some way. It wasn't paralyzing, but it was certainly disconcerting. This time, he decided to rush towards Transford, eyes aglow once more.

"All yours." Transford told Smash as in a flash of light, he shifted a far distance away from the attack, preparing to shoot the wolf down as soon as Smash made his move.

With that, Smash stepped right where Transford used to be, and glared right into the wolf's eyes with defiance. He knew he was putting himself on the spot, making himself completely vulnerable to the wolf's paralyzing gaze. He struggled a little under the influence, but now that he knew for sure what was causing that horrible sensation he felt far more confident that he could beat it. 'You don't scare me,' He thought, baring his clenched teeth into a snarl, 'Just try that again, I dare you.'

Smash's actions confused the wolf, but he wasted no time closing the gap in between him and Smash. Once he got in range, he would throw a right hook, followed by a burst of energy from his other hand if it landed. He was certain his attack would hit, but something about the current situation troubled him.

The Hikaris were beginning to decrease in number, but there was still a decent number of them still on the battlefield.

Reens let the orbs hit her, then smirked as she threw down the water orb she had been holding. "Man, that didn't hurt a bit," she said, flying off to destroy more Hikari clones. Invulnerability really pays off, she thought to herself as the orb exploded.

Meanwhile the barrage of attacks from the red Hikaris was too much for Xavis, who was unable to dodge or block them all at once and was left collapsed onto one knee. He was breathing heavily, and the wavering of the heat and fire made it clear his rage was beginning to fade.

The few red Hikaris relaxed somewhat, clearly exhausted from the attack. A few of them still looked to be going strong, but for the most part, they looked rather tired.

"Man down!" Splice told Clock, pointing at Xavis. "Let's take them all out at once; it's the best way to give him some breathing room!" He then broke into a sprint, gathering as much ice power in his palm as he could. With an upward swing of his arm, he summoned a long chain of sharp icicles to sprout from the ground like stalagmites, each one popping up closer and closer towards the red Hikaris until they would appear from underfoot.

Clock followed behind him, firing a spray of energy spheres at the red Hikaris, taking care to avoid friendly fire on Xavis or Splice. A few stray orbs might get close, but he made sure none actually hit anyone other than their intended targets.

Although a decent number of the Hikaris were dispatched, dissolving into light, the remaining few quickly merged back into one Hikari, and he took on a fighting stance once more.

Alright, I'll help take care of Hiccup first. Static thought, purposefully calling Hikari the wrong name in his head. Given the choice between him, the wolf, and Tama, Static decided to go with the one that didn't make his hair stand on end.

Since his focus was on Clock, Splice and Xavis, Static had the element of surprise. He dashed forward at high speed and attempted to trip Hikari by sliding under him while electrified, then immediately follow up with a strong electric blast.

Taken by surprise, Hikari fell onto his back. However, he managed to raise an arm to block the blast with what appeared to be a red barrier of some sort.

Splice then attempted to flank him, now getting a good look at his red barrier and deciding to shoot his unguarded side with a stream of ice pellets from his fingertips.

Hikari quickly put up his other hand, creating a barrier to block the icicles as well. It took all of his concentration to block both attacks...

And as such, he didn't pay attention to Clock, who had quickly moved behind him. Drawing his sword, he held the tip above Hikari's neck. "Yeah, you can stop now. Are you going to give up quietly, or are you going to be a prick about it?" Hikari's lack of action seemed to indicate the former, and he let down his barriers. "All right, hows about you popsicle this guy until we're done with everyone else, Splice?"

"You got it!" Splice grinned widely, his hands already glowing with power. "One vanilla ice cream cone with an extra scoop of defeat, comin' riiiiight up!" As he worked his magic, Hikari would find that instead of being simply encased in another block of ice, a long trail of ice spiraled up his body like a coil, leaving only his head exposed. To top it off, Splice set a large ball of snow on his head. He clicked his tongue when he was done, looking very much proud of his handiwork.

"Nice one!" Clock said, flashing Splice a thumbs-up with his free hand. "Now we've just got two left!"

Hikari simply grumbled, but didn't attempt to break free of his icy prison.

Tama frowned at Max's strange behavior. She stopped her assault and floated in place, awaiting his next move. Max suddenly shook crazily, and Tama would feel herself being tapped on her shoulder.

"What the..?" Tama quickly turned around, and fired a beam of energy out of her mouth. Max ducked, smirked, and placed his placed his hand to her chest before firing an incredibly large and powerful yellow beam.

The attack hit her dead on, and it sent her crashing to the ground, right in front of Platinum, who threw a right hook the instant she could, sending Tama staggering back a little bit.

"Let's take her out, now!" Platinum called out to Max. "Hit her hard, and then I can handle the rest! While I'm taking her out, go and help the others!"

"On it, Not-Granite! Let's finish her!" Max said before putting his hands in front of him, where a yellow orb appeared and light shone. His expression looked strained as he said "SUPER CHAOS WAVE!" He fired a yellow beam of Chaos Energy at Tama.

The beam hit her before she could react, pushing her across the park. Platinum followed alongside the path of the beam, cloaked in ivory-colored sparks. After being pushed quite a few yards, Tama managed to deflect the beam into the air, clearly angry. However, before she could let loose, Platinum was already standing in front of her, glowing purple. She had reverted to her normal blue-and-red mix at this point.

"All right, kid! Let me show you what real power looks like!" Platinum yelled. What followed could only be described as a complete beat-down. Platinum was throwing punches and kicks as if she was a walking tornado, not giving Tama a single chance to retaliate. The assault sent the two even farther away from the rest of the group, simply due to the speed and power behind each blow. As they approached the edge of the Park, the glow around Platinum had become even brighter. "And this is the finisher!" With both of her hands, she clubbed Tama directly over the head, a pillar of purple energy erupting from the strike. The glow and intensity of the blow would shake the park and light it up. After a moment, the dust settled, and Tama was lying in a crater in the ground. Platinum stood above her, exhausted.

The sound of the explosion caused Clock to turn his head to view it. "Woah." He muttered. "How about that, then. Well, uh. I guess it's just the wolf now."

Hikari also caught sight of Platinum's assault, and his eyes widened with uncharacteristic concern when he saw that Tama had been beaten. "Tama!" He gasped. It seemed that her defeat had caused him to lose his augmented voice and power, and he appeared to be even more weakened than before at this point.

Heartbeat Reens turned and blinked. "D-damn..." Her glow started to flicker. "Um, anybody need some help? I don't think I can, er, keep powered up for much longer." She looked around and noticed Smash against the wolf that had thrown the orbs at her earlier, but he looked like he had a plan.

"Isn't boredom so boring?" said Max, floating down to Reens. "I'd help Corliss over there, but he's probably got some new technique he's got up his sleeve, so I'm gonna wait. Meanwhile, how did your battle go?"

Smash had already been gauging just how powerful the paralysis was, by attempting to close his eyes while the wolf approached him. No good; it would take just about everything he had to move his eyelids and get the jump on him. The wolf would notice him struggling too and probably take evasive action. But Smash wasn't bothered by it; he had a better idea. All it required was timing.
Soon, the wolf was in range. He began to throw his right hook, and that's when it happened. A blast of sky blue energy erupted from the echidna, with a bright enough flash that--for a split second--obscured their view of each other. In that instance, Smash's eyes shut tight and his own arm shot forward with explosive speed, aiming to punch him in the chest before the wolf could strike him first. The blow would be powerful enough to send him soaring backwards.

Confident in his abilities, Smash's attack caught the wolf completely off-guard. "What-!?" Was all he could cry before getting knocked back a few yards, landing on his back. Despite being in clear pain, he leapt to his feet to survey his current situation.

Not good. He thought. I'm the only one left, and there's no way I can take them all on. My best bet is to get Hikari and Tama, and get out of here. His gaze turned to the frozen Hikari, and he prepared himself, waiting for someone to make a move.

Transford whistled to bring the wolf's attention back to him as he rushed toward him. Before getting within striking distance, he shifted himself behind the wolf, revolvers aimed at his backside as he pulled the trigger.

Smash's fist shook and trembled as the echidna began to feel the after effects of the blow he just dealt. Not wanting to exert himself too much more, he reverted back to his regular state and exhaled deeply. His plan seemed to work, but now he needed to think of another one. It wasn't likely that the wolf would give him a second chance at another attack like that, so he had to figure a way to follow up should Transford fail in his assault.

Thankfully for Smash, he wouldn't have to. Unable to react in time, both shots hit true, striking against a machine of some sort; it must have been obscured by the suit. It caused the device to let out a burst of electricity, which sent the wolf tumbling forward and onto the ground. He lept up once more, steam hissing from his suit, and turned to face Transford. However, his gaze quickly shifted as the following events transpired.

Meanwhile, Platinum was still standing in place. The attack had begun to take its toll, leaving her completely spent. However, as she was looking down at her defeated opponent, she noticed something.
What's this stuff on the ground? She thought, tentatively kneeling down to look at what had caught her attention. It's some kind of... Multi-color liquid?

A red Chaos Spear suddenly flew by in front of her. Xavis, who had managed to recover some, was running towards her. "PLATINUM WAIT NO!!" He yelled, quickly coming up next to her and pulling her away, "Don't let it touch you!"

"Wha-" Platinum could only gasp as she stumbled backwards and got pulled away by Xavis. "You know what that stuff is?"

Xavis' panicked cries caught more than just Platinum's attention. Splice nearly jumped out of his shoes, completely startled by the outburst. Not knowing what was going on, he wordlessly ran behind Xavis to catch up and see what all the commotion was about. Even Smash took his eyes off the wolf for a moment to see what was happening.

Clock kept his sword out, but turned away from the frozen Hikari to look at what was going on. Luckily for him, Hikari had also been taken in by the strange turn of events, waiting to see what would happen.

Suddenly, the ground began to shake. More of the multi-color liquid was emerging from the dirt, as if it had a mind of its own. In a flash, the sludge began to creep up Platinum's right leg, before she could even get a chance to notice what was happening.

"Huh!?" She gasped. "Hey, get this stuff off me!" Trying to pull her leg out of it seemed to only drag the substance upwards, and it was slowly creeping further and further up.

Panicking, Xavis wrapped his arms around around Platinum's waist and caused jet-streams to erupt from his feet, hoping to send the two rocketing away from the liquid and burn whatever was on the ground. Splice arrived just seconds later, and extended both hands to try and intensify Xavis' flames.

Heartbeat Reens also saw the liquid and began to hit at it with water orbs, hoping to wash it off of Platinum. "Whatever that goop is it's not a good thing! I absorb liquids, sure, but I'm not sure I want to even get near that! Plus it kind of looks like the stuff that one gal has with the monster, and it still creeps me out..."

Static looked on, not sure what to do. He was about to run over to get a closer look, but then a thought occurred to him. Hoping that the others could take care of it, he turned his focus back on Hikari and the wolf. He didn't want to let them have an opportunity to take advantage of the distraction.

Weakened by the attack from Reens, the liquid began to lose its grip on Platinum, and Xavis would be able to begin to pull her up and out of it, but not all the way. It was managing to resist being separated from the rest of the mass somehow managing to cling to the bottom of Platinum's leg. Slowly but steadily, it seemed to be spreading upwards.

"Geez, this stuff is holding on tight!" Platinum grumbled. "Get off already!" She leaned over to fire some balls of energy at the stuff. She didn't notice it, but in doing so it caused her pendant to no longer stay tucked behind her shirt, and was now dangling out in the open.

Alexia, who had just been watching, piped up. "I-I have a plan th-that might work... that s-s-sludge probably has some l-liquids in it I could t-take control of... b-but based on its a-actions, I doubt it w-wouldn't re-retaliate... b-but anyway, while I'm m-m-manipulating its liquids, y-you all could try t-to pry it o-off...." Alexia then started controlling the liquids to slow the sludge down, though she was clearly stressed.

"I'll try to burn it!" Xavis yelled, increasing his thrust and aiming the flames onto the liquid connecting them to the ground.

"Let me!" Splice exclaimed, drawing his daggers. He coated the blades in Xavis' flames and struck the slime with all his might, severing its connection between Platinum and the ground. But the liquid already stuck to her leg remained.

Reens finally reverted from her super form and dropped to the ground, grunting as she landed. "Good plan, I'll help you with it!" she said, lifting up her hands to add to Alexia's efforts. "At least I can touch it from afar and not get too close to the stuff..."

The combination of Xavis' flames with Reens' and Alexia's powers managed to pull the sludge from Platinum's leg, sending it smashing into the ground, forcing the crater even deeper. However...

As the sludge was being pushed down, one thin tendril shot up. It was not aiming for Xavis or Platinum, however; the tiny appendage swiftly wrapped itself around Platinum's now exposed pendant. In one swift movement, the string keeping it around her neck snapped, and the tendril was sent flying back down to the initial puddle with it. It must have been waiting for the right moment to strike; the whole attack took place in less than a second.

It took a moment for Platinum to realize what happened, and she had to raise one of her hands to her neck to confirm she wasn't just feeling things. "No!" She shrieked. "He took it!?" Sadly, she noticed moments too late. Her pendant was already gone.

Meanwhile on the ground, it seemed like the sludge had taken a hard hit. It was still intact, somehow, and it seemed like something about it was changing. The park began to shake; it seemed like a great power was about to be released.

"Took what!?" Splice quickly looked up from the ground in reaction to her panicked screams, but soon found himself struggling to balance once the quake hit. "Oh no, what now!?"

Max groaned. "Well, this is great. Another thing is near... I can sense it. And it's powerful." Max's aura flashed yellow before he fell on his back, de-transforming into his base form. He sat up, groaning. "I used a lot of energy... sheesh..."

Alexia tried freezing the sludge, putting more effort into her power.

"I-I feel it too," Reens said, wobbling a little. "It feels like an earthquake! That sludge... and Platinum's pendant being taken... are they both connected somehow?" She kept pushing her powers on the sludge, but was starting to slump. Just a little more time... I have to give them more time...

Smash was hoping that the others could handle whatever was going on while he made sure the wolf or Hikari didn't try to get the jump on him. But the words "He took it?" sent a chill up his spine. 'He?' He thought with concern. 'Wait, oh crap...Don't tell me...' It was at that moment when the ground began to shake. "I screwed up...!" Smash wasted not another minute and bolted towards the others.

Transford kept his eye on Hikari and the wolf as Smash went to assist the rest of the group. Behind his glasses, his eyes began glowing a bright red, preparing himself to rapidly change forms if necessary.

Reens briefly looked up as Smash came towards them, then refocused on the sludge. I don't think I can hold it like this much longer... going Super used up my energy... but I just can't give up now! They need more time... Smash, whatever you're gonna do, do it fast...

Platinum had placed her hands on her head at this point, and it almost seemed like the hair on her head was glowing red and blue. " Ugh... I need to get it back. I don't have much time... I've gotta focus."

The sludge continued to resist the attacks on it. At this point, the pendant had been completely absorbed. It begun to glow with power, swirling together, forming some kind of humanoid shape. A strong wind emanated from the figure of sludge, almost blindingly bright. For a moment, it appeared too bright to even be seen.
Awaken (Pillar men theme) piano cover

Awaken (Pillar men theme) piano cover

After a moment, the light died down and the wind ceased. Standing before them was none other than Fuwa, back once more. His lab coat was repaired, and the madness in his face had disappeared, replaced with nothing more than coldness and cruelty. His quills had straightened out, and the kaleidoscopic mess of colors that consumed them remained, but they had dulled, and appeared to shift in a much more orderly and slow manner. And around the madman's neck was Platinum's necklace, seemingly glowing with power.

Splice took a couple steps back, with bullets of sweat dripping off his face as his eyes widened. "Ohhhh...oh crap..." He muttered in fear. "I think...I think we're in big trouble, guys." Meanwhile, Smash just reached them. He was all but too late to stop the inevitable transformation. 

"So..." Fuwa chuckled, his expression shifting to a demented grin. "Will you give up and let me leave? Or... will I have to fulfill my promise to kill you?"

Smash clenched his fists tightly, noticing Platinum's struggle at the corner of his eye. It was at that moment when it hit him how important that necklace must have been. He recalled the conversation from before:

---

"You can see why I'm bothered by this. They're up to something; there's gotta be some ulterior motive to them hunting you. I have a hunch it has something to do with that period of time that you can't remember. They told me before that they had you in the Hyper Division a while back, but then they lost track of you. Does any of this jog any memories?"

Platinum rolled around on the bed, scratching her forehead. "Hmmm... I do remember a little bit of how I used to be. I really was freakishly strong, just like they've told you. And I was most certainly not a good person. But neither were they! It's foggy, but I'm fairly certain they were just as corrupt as Granite."

---

Without her regulator, she might just turn back into the old and corrupt Granite, or worse! They'd potentially have not one but two very powerful people to manage, now. Smash bore his gritted teeth with a snarl, "Everyone, we have to get that necklace back on Platinum--and fast. If we don't, things are gonna go from bad to worse real fast!"

"You got it." Transford said, his voice taking on more of a growl then usual. Arms outstretched, he fell backwards and seemed to disappear into the shadow of a fallen tree.

"Oh, what's this?" Fuwa scoffed. "Do you think you stand a chance against me at this point? My power is enough to take all of you on without breaking a sweat!" He paused for a moment, thinking. "Hm. How about a deal? If you can get even a single hit on me, I'll reunite your friend with her silly pendant. It's that easy!"

Static crossed his arms. "Why do I get the feeling it won't actually be that easy?" he rhetorically asked out loud.

Transford materialized behind Fuwa, arms in a X shape over his chest. "Agreed," Transford said as Fuwa finished speaking, arms suddenly changing into a pair of claws before slashing downward at Fuwa.

Xavis snarled, entering a running stance. "You're on!" he yelled, firing up his feet and rocketing toward Fuwa, aiming a high-speed punch.

"We've got you on the ropes before; who says we can't do it again?" Reens said confidently. "I'm just gonna... join you in a bit... my energy still isn't completely refilled yet."

Fuwa scoffed at the attacks towards him, starting off by quickly stepping forwards to avoid Transford's attack. It was as if he could see the attack coming without even looking at it. As Xavis closed in, Fuwa quickly sidestepped, using his right hand to fire a potent blast of Chaos energy right into his gut.

Xavis was completely unprepared to take such a hit and wound up collapsed and completely winded. He coughing up a small amount of blood, which sizzled like acid when it hit the ground. His own Chaos had protected him from the blast Fuwa released into his abdomen, leaving him mostly unaffected by it.

"If these are your best efforts, then I might as well just leave you here, ahaha! I was hoping to get in a good bout before I go and achieve my ultimate power, but this is nothing!"

This angered Xavis, who began analyzing the other hedgehog's Chaos signature...

Meanwhile, Platinum seemed to be mostly under control, save a pained expression on her face. "Need to wait... For the right moment to strike..." She muttered.

A chilling breeze began to circle Fuwa as ice rapidly began to form around him, threatening to trap him. Splice stood nearby with his hands extended toward him, hoping to hold him down while someone else lands a good blow on him. However, he would have some difficulty with Xavis being right next to Fuwa...

Although Xavis' heat kept Fuwa from being completely frozen, ice began to form around his joints, restricting his movements. Despite this, the mad scientist kept his mad grin on his face.

"Okay... I think I'm better now!" Reens cried, readying two water-covered fists. She charged directly at Fuwa as fast as she could, punching at him before unsheathing her sword and slashing at him with it. She then would try to kick near his face before she landed. "Take that, you crazy pile of goop!"

"Ah, a valiant effort," Fuwa commented, as Reens rushed towards him. "...but you're still far too predictable to even worry about." Using only minimal movement, he avoided her attacks with frightening precision, almost as if he knew what she would do before she even did it. "Honestly, you lot being skilled only makes it easier to read you like a book." As he dodged the kick, he released a burst of Chaos energy, shattering the ice and hopefully knocking Reens away.

Analysis complete. Calibrating...

Max, having gotten a bit of his stamina back, charged a yellow orb in his hands before fusing them together. "Chaos Buster!" he said, before firing it behind Fuwa.

Without even turning around, he caught the orb with a single hand before it could collide with his back. Still grinning as madly as ever, he looked over his shoulder towards Max. "You know, it would be a lot more surprising if you didn't feel the need to announce that you're attacking me. I might even have to try a little, ahahaha!" In a flash, he flicked the orb right back at Max.

Max jumped out of the way and clutched his side, putting a Chaos Arrow behind Fuwa before blasting three Chaos Spears at him. Fine then, I'll shut up, he thought.

Smash took this chance to move in, following behind the Chaos Spears ready to deliver a solid low kick towards freezing knee with enough force to shatter the ice, and potentially his kneecap as well--if he had any bones at all.

"Oh, you're all still trying, aren't you?" Fuwa sighed, as if he pitied them. "You really all have no clue how outmatched you've become!" With an unnatural reaction speed, he turned around with a wild look in his eyes, using one hand to catch the kick, and the other to deflect the energy attacks. "Heh. You have spirit, I'll give you that. In fact, I'll give you one last chance to walk away and let me leave without further violence. I'll go my own peaceful way, and nobody else gets hurt. What do you say?"

"I say that this is starting to get boring!" Transford mocked Fuwa.

Smash grunted. With his leg in Fuwa's grasp, he was left relatively helpless and at his mercy...or so he assumed Fuwa thought. With his free leg still firmly planted on the ground, he sprung forward and twisted his body to deliver a spin kick towards Fuwa's face. He shortly found himself upside down with his hands on the ground, but didn't stop there. He attempted to force his leg out of Fuwa's hand and flip right side up.

Fuwa quickly leaned backwards, Smash's kick just barely passing in front of his face. Although the attack missed, it still startled him enough so that he ended up letting go of Smash's leg, taking a step back to put some distance between the two.

Meanwhile, Static watched on. If he joined the fray, he was probably more like to either hit someone other than Fuwa, or be hit himself. He instead waited for an opening to hit Fuwa with a bolt of lightning while he was distracted, hoping for a guaranteed hit. If Fuwa was a man of his word, just hitting him with something would be enough. Didn't need to be anything powerful or fancy.

Come on, give me an opening. He thought. Then he realized something. Wait, if we're all trying to fight Dr. Strangelove over here, then who's watching the other two!? He quickly turned to see what had become of them, hoping they didn't take advantage of the situation to slip away.

Luckily, it seemed as if Hikari and the wolf were waiting to make a move. Hikari remained inside his frozen prison, albeit with a grimace across his face, and the wolf had gotten back up, but was slouched over and panting, clearly in no state to fight.

Reens flew backwards from the impact of Fuwa's attack, almost slamming into whoever was behind her. She ended up landing on her back with her sword still clenched in her grip, the wind knocked out of her. Using her sword as a temporary crutch, Reens lifted herself back up from the ground and panted, trying to regain some air.

Alexia jumped in front of Reens and put a shield of ice in front of her. "I'll c-cover you while you get s-some energy!" she said before firing ice shurikens from behind.

Simply giving Alexia a thumbs-up, Reens stood up fully and grimaced. "If we're too predictable like he says, then we have to do something he wouldn't expect, right?" She thought this out loud, clenching her fist. "I doubt that hunk of sewer trash is gonna keep his word anyway, right, you overgrown oil slick?"

Calibration complete.

Xavis growled, clenching his teeth and punching the dirt. Those who could would feel a slight energy surge around him, and in one swift motion he got back on his feet and raised an arm to the sky. Fuwa would suddenly become frozen in place, his own Chaos being manipulated and used against him.

"Enough! This ends now!" Xavis barked, signaling the others to do something.

"Hmpf. The only thing that's ending now is all of your lives-" As Fuwa was talking, however, his body suddenly froze up, and despite his efforts he could not budge, not even an inch. "What nonsense is this!? Release me at once! Don't think you can hold me forever!"

Transford gave Xavis a quick glance before he once again shifted toward Fuwa, preparing another downward slash that would hopefully finish him off if Xavis succeeded in freezing him.

Completely helpless, Fuwa was completely bisected by the attack. His two halves attempted to merge back together, but Xavis had kept them from making any kind of movement whatsoever. "Grrgh!" Fuwa grumbled. "I... Will... Break... Free..!" Xavis would begin to feel Fuwa's own will pushing against his, attempting to take control of his body once more. For the time being, though, it wasn't enough.

Static watched, looking at Xavis and then back at Fuwa. "I don't know how you're doing that, but keep it up!" he said.

Max stood in silence for a short amount of time, shaking oh-so-slightly. Oh no... He looked at where Platinum was. This all... this was my fault, wasn't it? Making such a scene, wanting to appear as a friend but acting like a douche... this was me. Max gripped his fist. People are going to die, and what have I wasted my time doing? Trying to look cool? Heh! Max's hair lit up yellow, and his eyes turned red once again as he looked to Fuwa. I don't need to say anything. If I'm a part of this team... it's time for me to show up. Max was surrounded by a yellow aura and blasted forward at Fuwa with an emerald-green fist. However, just as it appeared he might've or might've not hit him, Max would've disappeared and reappeared to Fuwa's side, trying to deliver a Chaos Energy-filled kick to his cheek.

Still immobile, the kick deformed the right half of Fuwa from its impact. And still, he was not able to make himself move, remaining a completely helpless target. Max changed his attack into a knee. If it landed, he'd try a flurry of kicks to the face before attempting to teleport behind him and elbow him in the back before appearing in front of him again and attempting to kick him upwards.

All of Max's attacks connected, save the final kick, which Fuwa blocked with a barrier of energy. However, he still remained immobile, and was deformed greatly at this point. Xavis would feel the force of Fuwa's will grow stronger. His hand began to shake. Despite this, there was still some more time before he would lose control over Fuwa's chaos. "Hit me all you like, hahaha. You won't be able to get to the pendant before Platinum loses control of those terrible powers, and before I break free. I refuse to lose to you lesser beings!"

Regaining some energy, Reens noticed Xavis' signal and began running forward towards Fuwa, her teeth clenched and blade in front of her. Remember, Reens... we have to be unpredictable! She created a second blade out of water and solidified it enough to where she could wield it.

Her face still in a grimace, Platinum walked in front of Reens. "Please." She muttered. "Let me finish this. The sooner I get the pendant, the better. I can finish this with one more attack, so he won't have any time to regenerate." She placed one of her hands on her forehead, and tendrils of purple energy flickered around her. "I don't have much time... Before I lose control."

"Flinch already!" Max yelled, picking up speed and charging Chaos Energy into his attacks. If this didn't work, he was going to have to be desperate...

Melissa watched the battle the best she could from where she sat, her vision still recovering. She could tell things were getting desperate. She looked at the still-bound, still unconscious Kiko. She didn't want to leave him unattended or put herself in danger while vulnerable like this, but also didn't want the situation to spiral out of control. She squeezed her fist.

"We've got em on the ropes!" Splice exclaimed. He spread his arms outward, commanding the remaining snow on the ground around them to rise up. The large cloud of white ice swirled around the group, gradually closing in on Fuwa. Splice then swung his arms, slicing through the air with a scissor motion as the snow all began to clump together and solidify, threatening to completely bind Fuwa.

Smash quickly followed up with a massive leap into the air above him, back in his High Tension state, and soon descended upon Fuwa while performing several somersaults. His flips rapidly increased in speed, until finally he sent a crushing axe kick his way.

Everyone's attacks hit true; Xavis's binding had left Fuwa unable to even move an inch to try and dodge. His attempts to block with energy shields were pathetic; the barriers simply shattered when an attack hit them. The combination of Smash, Splice, and Max's efforts left Fuwa nothing but a deformed blob, bound with ice. He gurgled some kind of sound, presumably an insult, but he was far too deformed for it to be anything recognisable.

Static carefully started approaching the wolf, trusting the others to take care of Fuwa. "So, care to surrender now?" he asked, still keeping some distance.

The wolf grimaced. "I highly doubt that we're the biggest concern you should have right now. But if it pleases you, then sure. For the time being, we surrender. Though it's not like the higher-ups will care. I'm certain that they'll call for a carpet bombing if this gets too dangerous." He finished his sentence with a sarcastic grin.

"What is it with you people and bombing everything?" Static deadpanned.

Reens looked over at Platinum, considered her options, and lowered her swords. "Okay, but if you need backup don't hesitate to yell for us," she said, backing up a safe distance away so Platinum could do her thing.

"Thank you." Platinum sighed, and took a deep breath. "Simply let the tension build up..." A multicolored sphere of energy formed inside of her palm. "And... release." In the blink of an eye, she launched herself towards Fuwa at incredible speeds, an arm outstretched, hand coated in energy. "I believe this is mine." She deadpanned. Her hand tore right through Fuwa, and as it did, she felt her pendant. Grasping tight, she tore the object right out of his form, barreling straight through him. After passing through the amorphous blob of Chaos, she stopped, and pivoted to face him. "Begone." She quietly said, pointing her open palm at Fuwa. The sphere of energy expanded into a multicolor wave sent towards Fuwa, tearing up the ground around it as it barreled towards him. Upon contact, the beam enveloped Fuwa, and after a moment, it dissipated, with no multicolor hedgehog in sight.

Xavis dropped his arm and hunched over, panting slightly.

Smash stood up after landing, still panting somewhat as the adrenaline rushing through his body cooled down, while Splice let his arms drop and hang low while he let out a huge sigh. "Is it over?" He asked aloud.

Blinking, Reens looked around as she sheathed her sword and let the 'water-sword' vanish. "I don't know," she said more to herself than answering anyone. "Are we really safe?"

Clock could only stare at the events that had just unfolded before him. "Man, what have I gotten myself mixed up in?" He muttered to himself.

"I hope so," Xavis said, straightening his posture. He looked around at the remaining Hyper Division members, then to the others. "So what now?"

"Probably best to regroup and start going through what we've gathered." said Transford, picking up his gauntlet. As it sealed back around his arm accompanied with a few clicking noises, the tendrils on his back dematerialized, leaving no apparent rips or tears in his clothes. "But first..." He trailed off while gesturing toward the Hyper Division agents with a revolver in hand.

Following his hand, Reens gulped. "Do we really have to... you know...?" She trailed off, looking down at her shoes. "I know they kinda wanted to kill us, but I just... feel bad about taking someone else's life..." She rubbed her head with her hand in embarrassment.

Static looked at Transford. "No." he said flatly. "We're not doing that."

"No one said anything about killing them." Smash interrupted, shaking his head as he walked past them, "That'd just make US look like the bad guys. Sheesh! But we can't just let them go, or leave them here for that matter..."

"So uh, what're we gonna do then?" Splice asked, scratching his head, "I don't remember what the plan was after we beat em."

"We need answers," Smash stated simply, "And we need our freedom."

Clock, keeping his sword drawn, turned towards the rest on the group. "I say we take them back to the house and interrogate them. Splice and Melissa can probably keep them from running off, right?"

"That's... probably... a good... ide-" Max lurched onto his knees and barfed up blood, looking tired and transforming back into his base. "Urgh, goddamn it... apologies for being a.... liability..." That was all he managed before falling unconscious on his stomach with a thump.

Static grimaced when Max vomited. "I'm guessing we won't be getting answers here." he said. "Well, actually, there is one question I'd like to ask." He looked at Platinum. "If you don't mind me asking, what's so important about that pendant?"

Reens helped Max sit up a little, having him sit up on his knees and cooling his face with a little water. "From what I've gathered, that pendant keeps her from transforming into Granite. She told me she was going to lose control when I was about to attack Fuwa, so I stepped aside and she did her thing."

"You're a little bit off, but yeah." Platinum said, walking back towards the group. "It helps me keep my two other personalities in check. Without it on, I... lose control of my powers. It gets hard to tell friend from foe after a while, and if I don't get it back on quickly, I'll hurt whatever's in sight..." She sighed. "But it seems like my breathing exercises have helped. At the very least, I could keep control long enough to get it back. Anyways, we should probably get back to the house and get some rest; I'm exhausted."

"Same, but I do have one more question." Static admitted. "Who, or what, was that. . . thing??" he asked, pointing to where Fuwa once stood. Or at least, what was left of that area.

"Whatever he was, he's gone now. We can ask questions when we get back to the house." Platinum slumped forwards, heaving a sigh of relief. "I can barely keep myself upright as it is."

Lifting Max onto his feet, Reens supported him with one of his arms draped across her shoulders. "Okay, buddy, we're gonna start walking a little bit, alright? Just hold on to me," she said under her breath to him. She started moving forward in the direction of the house. "I'm starving..." she thought to herself.

Splice hurried over and helped support his other arm, relieving half the weight on Reens. "Man, talk about overdoing it..." He muttered under his breath.

Smash stopped in front of the agents--Hikari still immobilized by his frigid bindings, Kiko still unconscious under Melissa's restraints--and turned his attention directly towards the unnamed wolf standing free but injured. "You three are coming with us," He declared, "I'd advise cooperating quietly. Some of us are more trigger happy than others, and I can't guarantee your safety if you try anything."

"Hmph." The wolf grunted. "It's not really like we have much of a choice, is it?" He shot his paralyzing glare at Smash for a moment, but quickly stopped, smirking. Smash didn't even flinch, and in fact glared right back into his eyes to show that he wasn't afraid of him. "At the very least, it's nice to know that the rest of the world isn't filled with pansies."

Hikari, on the other hand, remained silent.

Static frowned at the idea of bringing the HD operatives back. "Is that really a good idea?" he asked Smash. "I wouldn't want Hyper Division to show up on your doorstep because they tracked them. Then again, there's not really an alternative, is there?"

With a slight smile, Reens looked over at Splice gratefully. "Thanks."

"Well, it seems like we've got our course of action planned out." Clock noted. "Melissa, can you handle bringing back Kiko by yourself? Splice and ice-hedgehog-chick, whatever your name is, you two can handle taking Hikari, I presume. And I'll handle this wolf guy. Transford, can you help me keep watch over him?"

"They got their hands full with Max already." Smash stated, "I'll handle Hikari." He walked over to the cat, and grabbed him by his icy binds. "Alright, get up."

"Ah hold on, lemme help with that." Splice called out as he and Reens passed him, reaching his hand out to crack some of the ice around his legs telepathically before Smash forced him onto his feet.

Hikari's only response was an annoyed grunt, but he complied.

"Can we try freezing them and then unfreezing them when we get to whatever your base of operations a-a-are?" Alexia stammered. "Also, th-this is embarrassing, but... I don't think I introduce m-myself, and I don't think that you kn-kn-know me all too well, either. D-Do you want to me to explain myself n-now, or should I just b-be quiet?" She turned to the group.

"Let's wait until we get back to the house." Clock said. "Then we can have a team meeting and whatnot. And maybe get some rest, too."

"I'll get him," Xavis said, walking over to Melissa and Kiko and effortlessly slinging the fox over his shoulder. "How're you doing?" He asked the sparrow, offering her a hand up.

"Better," she answered, taking his hand and getting to her feet. She rubbed her eyes. "Still a bit hazy but it's coming back."

Xavis sighed in relief. "Good, it wasn't permanent..."

Reens also sighed in relief. "I'm glad we can all just relax for a while now, at least for a bit."

"Alright, everyone!" Clock exclaimed, dashing to the front of the group. "We're going to head back to the house, and we can discuss everything that just happened then, alright? If anyone needs help walking back due to injury, we'll assign partners."

"Ah, y-y-you all have a base? Maybe I can cook something for you a-all, then," said Alexia, wanting to make herself useful before realizing something. "O-Oh! I almost forgot about the b-b-bat!" Alexia raised her hands, and the ice dome Jewel was in was lifted into the air before shrinking to perfectly encase the unconscious Jewel. "I-I'll be carrying this, if you don't mind."

"I'm totally wasted," said Max, groaning. "I'll give whichever next Division member we meet a beatdown next tie... oh god.."

Static was about to follow when he noticed Tama out of the corner of his eye. "Wait, what about her?" he asked, pointing to the unconscious powerhouse of a child.

"Oh, yeah. I guess I forgot about her in the heat of the moment." Platinum sighed. "I dunno what we should do about her. On one hand, we probably shouldn't leave her out here, but on the other hand... She does seem to be a bit temperamental, doesn't she? What are your thoughts, guys?"

"I could try f-f-freezing her," Alexia stammered before looking at the ground. "Th-though I have to admit that's m-my solution to mostly deal with everyone that I want to carry around."

"I don't want anything to do with her," Xavis said with salt in his voice as he and Melissa walked up. "However... I agree she needs to be dealt with, and I do happen to have some spare Inhibitor Rings that could keep her power down." He raised his free hand up, showing the golden ring around his wrist, then looked to Alexia. "Along with you freezing her."

"Yeah I have to agree that leaving her here sounds like a really bad idea." Smash said, "But only If you guys can keep her in check will I let her come along. If she wakes up and starts blowing crap up, we're gonna have problems."

"...I'll keep her under control." Hikari muttered. After a short pause, he cleared his throat. "Trust me, I can reign her in, keep her from breaking anything. Just please, don't hurt her."

Clock's eyes widened and his eyebrows raised, but he said nothing.

"And after all of that, you just going to expect us to take your word for it?" Transford chided the cat surveying what was left of the park, weapons lowered but still clenched tight.

Reens narrowed her eyes slightly and grit her teeth, her quills slightly flaring.

"No, I suppose that's fair." Hikari sighed. "But I really can keep her under control, if you let me. Kiko could, also, when he wakes up. Please, let us handle her. We won't make any trouble."

Clock stepped forwards, and cleared his throat to get everyone's attention. "We can trust him." He stated. "Whether he's a good person or not, he's not lying about this."

Smash huffed. "I'll take your word for it." He said, before narrowing his eyes at Hikari. "But I warn you; if I sense any foul play, I'm not gonna let you off the hook." That being said, he took the lead out of the park. "Let's go."

"Finally." Platinum groaned. "I feel like I've been fighting for a year and then some."

"Heh. That sounds like something Mimic would say." Static mused. "Speaking of which, where is he?"

Letting her quills fall into place, Reens shrugged. "Wherever he is, he's probably having a better time than we are." She started walking forward a little to balance with Splice and Max.

"I'm sure he'll turn up." Clock said. "Now, onwards to the house!" With that, he began marching off, back to the house once more.

Back at the House

Only minutes before the rest of the group joined the battle at the park, someone else was making her way towards the house they had met up at. Her name was Ryoku The Hedgehog, self-proclaimed sister to Clock-Watch. She had been waiting for him to return from playing pool, and was about to go out to the place he frequented to drag him back to the apartment they stayed at. However, at that moment, she received a fax, presumably from Clock himself. It read as follows:

'Danger. Government guys are going after some magic crystals or something. Found a weird haired girl who knows stuff about it. Currently out investigating. Meet up at this house. Bring the documents. Keep them safe at all costs.'

What followed was a short map with directions to a house within the city, and a number of files that appeared to be government documents of some sort. Ryoku's eyes widened when she saw the Hyper Division insignia on them. Not letting a moment go to waste, she gathered her things and ran straight towards the house the directions were leading her to.

Inside the house, Mimic had helped himself to some of the pizza that Smash had ordered earlier. He had picked up a pineapple on the trip back and had sliced some of it on to the pizza he was eating. Whether he paid for the pineapple or not was another question entirely.

Shouldn't we wait until the others get back? Tom asked.

"What? I'm not gonna eat all of it." Mimic replied. "Besides, any more waiting, and it'll get cold. And you know how I feel about cold pizza."

There is a microwave you could re-heat it in. Tom said.

Microwave reheated food never tastes right. Jerry complained bitterly.

"Exactly." Mimic said in agreement, dropping a slice into his mouth and eating it all in one bite.

As he was eating, there was a knock at the door, followed by a voice. It was quiet, though, presumably as to not alert anyone outside to her message.

"Clock? It's me, Ryoku. I have the documents you asked me to get. Can you let me in and tell me what the heck is going on?"

"Clock-watch is not here right now," Mimic said, taking a second to stop eating pizza and alter his voice to sound like a recording of Clock-watch's voice. "Please leave a message at the sound of a beep." He then perfectly imitates the same annoying *beeeeeep* sound used in phone messages and audio censoring.

Seriously? That's what you're going with? Tom deadpanned.

"Ha ha, very funny." Ryoku deadpanned. "Just hurry up and let me inside already; I'm worried about what's going on. These documents you sent me... This is more serious than I could have imagined." She paused for a moment. "Also, if you stop messing around and let me in, I'll buy you one of those parfaits you like."

Ooh! Parfaits! Jerry chirped.

"Door's unlocked." Mimic called, still using Clock's voice. He also shape-shifted into Clockwatch.

Ryoku opened the door and walked in, finding her way to 'Clock-Watch' and lying down on the floor. "Nice place. I'm not going to bother asking what you're doing in an abandoned house, but where'd you get these papers? I had figured that they'd be here, but I never thought that- er, nothing."

'Clock' raised one of his eyebrows for a moment, but decided not to press the issue of her verbal backspace. "It's a long story; I'll explain it all when everyone else gets here. I've gotten caught up in this mystery since the attack at the bank earlier today."

"I was wondering why you took so long. Normally it doesn't take you too long to lose at billiards." Ryoku joked.

"H-Hey!" Clock stammered. "That's not true! Shut up!"

Ryoku simply gave him a deadpan stare as she walked over to the stack of pizza boxes. She picked them up with one hand, and then took a seat on the couch. After a moment, her hand began to faintly glow. "I presume this is for everyone else? You're lucky I came; at the very least this'll still be warm and fresh when they get back."

"They will certainly appreciate that." 'Clock' replied. "Assuming nothing unexpected happened, they should be returning soon."

"Who are 'they', exactly?" Ryoku asked.

"Citizens who've been pulled into this escapade by some means or another." 'Clock' answered. "An. . . interesting assortment of people, certainly. But invaluable nonetheless."

"Well, they better hurry the hell up." Ryoku grumbled. "I've been worried sick for the past few hours, and I expect some answers."

"Agreed." 'Clock' replied. His attention then turned to another room that had a billiards table. "But, in the meantime. . ." he said, walking to the billiards table and picking up a stick. "Care for a game?"

"If you insist on being trounced, sure." Ryoku said, smirking. "Just 8-ball this time, I presume? I can never remember the rules for all the other ones."

"Sure. And I have a feeling that I'll be the one doing the trouncing." 'Clock' replied. The table was conveniently already set. "I'll let you break." he adds.

"We'll see about that!" Ryoku chuckled. Lining up her shot, she broke. It was a decent break, spreading the billiards around the table, but it didn't pocket any of them. Ryoku silently cursed, but stepped back to let Clock take his turn.

'Clock' took aim and sunk a solid ball into a corner pocket, calling out the shot before sinking it. "Yellow in the side pocket, and orange in the corner." he said, before hitting the cueball again along the bottom of the ball, bouncing it over several other balls and hitting the solid yellow into the side pocket. The cue ball rolled into the solid orange and knocked that into a corner pocket, just as 'Clock' called out it would.

It took Ryoku a moment to process what had just happened. Did Clock just... Actually make a shot like that? "Well, then. I guess I'm stripes." She said, still trying to figure out how 'Clock' had gotten so good that quickly.

'Clock' continued sinking more solids into different pockets until only the strips and 8 ball remained. He had a perfect shot lined up, but decided to only tap the cue ball instead, making it roll only a few inches and tap the 8-ball, not moving it an inch. "Well, I guess it's your move." he said.

Ryoku simply looked at the table in silence. Oh, what I wouldn't give for the people he talked about to come back and spare me this embarrasment. She thought.

As if on que, there was a knock at the door.

"That would be them, I presume." 'Clock' said, making his way to answer the door.

Thank the stars. Ryoku thought, following 'Clock' to the door.

After the brief sound of jingling keys and a twisting lock, accompanied by multiple voices outside, the front door swung open and Smash hurried inside, with Hikari directly behind him. The others soon followed, bringing along their captured foes and injured friends. Smash opened his mouth to speak, but his attention was immediately drawn to the sound of unknown footsteps approaching. "Who's there!?" He demanded.

"What? There shouldn't be anyone else here." Splice said, alarmed. "It was just me and Reens and we left!"

"Yeah," Reens agreed, shifting her arm into her cannon. "Maybe another Hyper Division agent?"

"Calm down, Mr. Corliss, it's just us." 'Clock' said as he approached.

Static blinked, looking at the fake Clock and then back to the real one. It only took a moment for him to figure out what was happening. He didn't say anything, but face-palmed instead.

"What the hey'!?" Splice jumped, looking back and forth between the two different Clockwatches, "You're not Clock! HE'S Clock!"

"Bwuh!?" Platinum exclaimed, jumping back in surprise. "What are you doing with his face! And his stupid hair, too!"

"I'm right here, you know." The real Clock grumbled.

Smash's face scrunched into an annoyed glare. 'What do you mean "us"?' He thought to ask just before Ryoku came into view. He shifted his gaze between her and 'Clock' before settling on him. "Look, we've just been through a long grueling battle on an empty stomach. We're not in the mood for this crap right now, so why don't you just quit with the copycat deal and tell us just what you've been doing here in our absence."

'Clock' shape-shifted back into his original form: the black and green mockingbird everyone knows and more or less tolerates. "Came back from the warehouse and decided to wait here for you." Mimic said. "Since Riki came here looking for Clockwork, I decided to play along. For all I knew, she could've been working for them." he said, pointing to the HD members. "I'll admit I had a little fun with the charades, but-"

"You just wanted to make sure she wasn't someone dangerous." Static guessed.

"More or less." Mimic shrugged. "That, and she promised a parfait for letting her in." he adds, glancing over to Ryoku.

The second Ryoku saw Clock, she let out a sigh of relief. "As much as I would've liked to blast this impostor into atoms, it's good to know you're alright, little bro. I was worried you had gotten kidnapped... by... what." Her sentence was interrupted by her noticing the captured agents. "What the hell happened out there!?"

"Trust me when I say it's a long story." Clock sighed. "Let's just get everyone in first, and we can take turns for recaps, or story-time, or whatever the hell we want to call it." Realizing he almost forgot, he turned to the rest of the group. "Almost forgot. This is my sister, Ryoku. She's a nuclear-powered detective whatever. Ryoku, meet everyone. Everyone, Ryoku. Are we good? I've got about twelve separate headaches right now."

"I would too if I had that many gears in my head." Mimic said.

"Okay, then," Reens said feeling a bit awkward, letting Max down onto a chair before heading into the kitchen. "Well, since everyone's coming inside we should probably divvy up the pizza and cake, right? Hopefully my cake hasn't gone bad since we left."

"Ah relax," Splice said reassuringly, heading after her. "Our cake wouldn't go bad that fast, even if we left it out. Should be just right, now."

"Yeah, about the cake. . ." Mimic said. "And the pizza. . . well, you guys were taking so long, and I was so hungry. . ."

"Whoa wait hold up, we didn't finish the cake yet!" Splice exclaimed angrily, "Don't tell me you ate it right out the pan!?"

A dangerous gleam flashed in Smash's eyes, hiding his suppressed, burning rage as he stomped towards the bird. "How. Many. Slices." He demanded to know.

"How many slices did I eat? Or how many are left?" Mimic asked coyly.

Static double face-palmed, wanting to hide himself from anyone who may associate him with Mimic. "He has to be joking." he muttered.

"He'd better be," Xavis said from one of the sofas, he and Melissa both glaring at the mockingbird.

The echidna could feel his patience being severely tested as he immediately lifted him up by his collar. "Don't screw with me, poser. I've dealt with more than enough lies for one day, so lemme tell you one fact: If people are still hungry after we eat I will personally wring your scrawny peck neck until you can only eat soft yogurt. Got it!?"

Seeing that he had matters well in hand, Splice took this chance to slink back into the kitchen to check the cakes--which were fortunately untouched. A wave of relief washed over him as he took them out and placed the pans on the counter, before resuming his preparation of the icing.

Sweatdropping, Reens breathed a sigh of relief. I probably won't eat that much anyhow. Knowing me I eat like a bird - well, current circumstances aside, she thought, looking over at the unfortunate mockingbird. At least I can eat some cake - if dairy decides to do me a favor and not make me ill.

You might want to stop while you're ahead. Tom warned.

More like while you still have a head. Jerry added.

"Aye aye, Skippy." Mimic said, his smug grin completely unchanged. "There's plenty of pizza for everyone, and I was only joking about the cake. It doesn't even have frosting yet. What kind of madman would eat cake without frosting?"

"Yet you eat pineapple on pizza?" Static asked, taking a look at the pizza that was still available, seeing a sliced pineapple next to the boxes before he headed into the kitchen.

"Be glad I didn't bring anchovies." Mimic called as Static exited the room. "As for people still being hungry afterwards, well. . . let's just say you wouldn't believe how much he can eat." Mimic added to Smash, pointing to Static after the feline had his back turned.

Smash felt his grip tighten in aggravation, but let go after a short sigh.

"Good, he actually wasn't serious about the cake." Static said as he entered the kitchen. "If your friend doesn't strangle him, I might end up doing it myself." he muttered to Splice.

Transford, meanwhile, made his way to the table and opened up one of the pizza boxes. Although there were still some slices left, all of them were covered in pineapple. He simply pushes the boxes to the other end of the table and put the white folder from the building in its place.

"Aw, he was just teasing," Reens said with a smirk. "Besides, he could just shape-shift into not having a physical neck you could grasp, thereby alleviating the threat of being strangled," she added, placing a finger on her chin in thought. "And what's wrong with pineapple and pizza? Sure pineapple is pretty sweet, but placing it with the cheese and sauce on pizza mellows out the sweetness and gives it a savory touch."

"Typically you should use dried pineapple if you want to make it a topping." Splice noted, "That looks like a fresh, ripe and juicy pineapple to me. That'll definitely make the pizza a bit more soggy than I'd like. If I wanted pineapple juice I'd grab a glass."

"Thing is, he overdoes it." Static said. "Sometimes I wonder if he's trying to get himself beaten into a pulp."

Smash shook his head after overhearing the conversation. They had far more important things to worry about now; he couldn't let his stomach make him complacent to their situation. He turned to the remaining Hyper Division members and gave them a firm look that served to remind them they weren't welcome here. "We have things to discuss. Clock, Platinum, come with us." With that he lead them further into the house, towards one of the back rooms away from the rest of the crowd.

"Let's hope we get some answers, at last." Clock said, following along. The agents simply followed without a word. Kiko was still out, but the wolf had simply dragged him behind as they followed Smash.

Mimic considered following, despite knowing Smash would vehemently object. This seemed to only further encourage him to do so. However, he eventually decided against it in favor of being around the other people present.

Alexia finally set Tama down on the ground with a THUMP! after Smash began to leave, causing the ice shell around the bat to melt. Aqua then turned to the group. "U-Um... hello... is it o-o-okay if I ask a few qu-questions? I'm really c-confused..."

Static flinched when he saw Alexia carelessly drop Tama. 

Hikari spun around immediately upon hearing Tama hit the floor, eyes burning with what appeared to be pure rage. "How dare you treat her like that!" He took a step in her direction, but Ryoku quickly stood up. The two stared at each other for a moment, and Hikari sighed, continuing to follow Smash and the others.

As he left, Ryoku picked up Tama, and carried her over to a couch. "Jeez, you're really roughed up, aren't you?" She sighed. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

"With the way things have gone, it wouldn't surprise me," Reens replied with a sigh. She watched the group walk past and her ear twitched.

Alexia pointed over to where Smash had walked and to the bruised and unconscious Max. "This human and the red-and-blue-haired miss were extremely helpful in defeating her. I can't i-i-imagine having to take her on by myself... I'd b-be destroyed ins-instantly.

"Yes, if this is the same Tama I knew, then she can be quite dangerous when throwing a tantrum." Ryoku commented. "But she should be fine when she wakes up."

"Wait, you know her?" Static asked Ryoku, having grabbed a plate and some pepperoni pizza.

"More important question." Mimic said. "If you're nuclear-powered like Detective Perm said, does that mean we're going to have to worry about radiation? Especially since you were keeping the pizza warm?"

Static was about to take a bite when Mimic said this, which caused him to stop and look at it, then back at Mimic and Ryoku, and then the pizza again, wondering if it's safe to eat now that Mimic put that thought in his head.

"The pizza's fine, otherwise I would've mentioned it," Xavis said as he got two plates of pizza, "She must run on fusion, not fission, so we're safe." He walked back to the sofa and handed Melissa one of the plates.

"Got it in one!" Ryoku said. "That's very observant of you; not many people would think fusion technology could be so compact."

Static let out a small sigh of relief as he proceeded to eat the pizza.

"Well, okay then," Reens replied, taking a plate and some pizza, each slice different. She stacked them on top of each other, then pressed down a little until they looked like a sandwich. Biting into it, she chewed thoughtfully. "Oh, man. This is great!"

Static looked at the way Reens was eating her pizza. "I wish I thought of that." he said. "But getting back to the subject, how do you know her?" Static asked Ryoku.

"Oh, where to begin?" Ryoku sighed. "It's a long story, but judging from what the cat (or echidna, in this case) dragged in, you guys could use every bit of info you can get."


Static's ear twitched a bit in annoyance with the cat analogy, but didn't say anything. He continued to eat the delicious and mouthwatering pepperoni pizza as he waited for Ryoku to continue.

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